7. REAR VIEW AND BLIND SPOT MIRRORS
Draft Directive of the European Parliament and the Council relating to the type approval of mirrors and supplementary systems for indirect vision and of vehicles with these devices and amending Directive 70/156/EEC.
|Legal base:||Article 95 of the EC Treaty; consultation; qualified majority voting
|Document originated:||7 January 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:||6 February 2002
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 20 February 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None
|To be discussed in Council:||Unknown
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Cleared, but further information requested
7.1 A number of accidents are caused when drivers are
unaware of other road users near their vehicles because of the
existence of blind spots around the vehicles, especially goods
vehicles. Directive 71/127/EEC sets out the current technical
standards for rear-view mirrors of vehicles. But under the Directive,
Member States have discretion to limit the application of the
Directive to light and heavy commercial vehicles. For example,
in the UK, existing UK legislation does not require the fitting
of mirrors to certain heavy goods vehicles to specifically address
the blind spot that lies directly under the front windscreen.
In the recent past, the lack of a clear view of the front of the
vehicle has caused a number of fatalities when drivers have driven
forward unaware that a child was crossing the road in front of
the stationary vehicle. The Government estimates that the elimination
of this blind spot could save around 16 fatalities per year in
the UK. There are also blind spots at the side of certain other
vehicles which are not dealt with under existing rules.
7.2 The existing Directive will be replaced by the proposed
Directive. The Minister summarised the main changes proposed as
" the Directive would be mandatory (i.e. it would
have to be applied to all categories of vehicle, except motorcycles)
the current Directive only has to be applied to light
and heavy commercial vehicles if Member States choose;
- additional mirrors would be required on certain vehicles in
order to increase the driver's field of vision:
- exterior rear-view mirrors on the passenger's side of cars,
- certain technical characteristics of mirrors would be modified
in order to increase the field of vision, including an increase
in the permitted protrusion from cars;
- certain mirrors could be replaced by alternatives, such as
camera/monitor systems; and
- the provisions in the existing mirrors Directive (71/127/EEC)
regarding type-approval and conformity of production procedures
would not be included in the new Directive these aspects
would be covered by the Framework Directive (70/156/EEC)."
The Government's view
7.3 The Minister tells us in his Explanatory Memorandum
that blind spots are a significant problem for drivers of large
vehicles in the UK. He says:
"UK legislation currently requires new heavy goods vehicles
over 12 tonnes to be fitted with additional 'close proximity'
and (in the case of articulated vehicles) 'wide angle' mirrors
to address blind spots to the sides of the vehicle. However, there
are currently no requirements for mirrors to cover the blind spot
which exists below the windscreen of many high vehicles.
"The main effect of this directive will be to require new
goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes to be equipped with a mirror to
cover this blind spot. The additional mirror may be combined with
one of the vehicle's existing mirrors. Where a mirror is not feasible
a camera system, may be used instead."
7.4 The Directive also extends the requirement to fit
wide angle and close proximity mirrors to goods vehicles in the
3.5 to 12 tonne range. This measure will also apply to left hand
drive EU registered vehicles which can currently use UK roads
without close proximity mirrors and can cause particular risks
in certain traffic conditions, such as when changing lane on a
7.5 The Minister tells us that the proposed measures
can make a significant contribution to the Government's road casualty
reduction targets. However, he also says that there are certain
aspects of the proposal that could be improved. For example, he
says that while a proposal to require the exterior mirrors to
cars and light goods vehicles to incorporate "aspheric"
zones as used in many car mirrors would provide a wider view of
blind spots, these larger mirrors pose an increased risk to pedestrians
and cyclists. The Minister says that the benefits achieved by
providing wider vision to drivers may be offset by the increased
risks from the slightly larger mirrors. The measures will be examined
as part of the Regulatory Impact Assessment.
7.6 The Minister says that, as a conservative estimate,
the casualty savings of requiring the fitting of additional mirrors
on goods vehicles could be around £16 million per year whereas
the cost of fitting the additional mirrors would total around
£3 million per year. The Minister also suggests that it might
be more beneficial to require blind spot mirrors to be fitted
on buses (which are not addressed in the Directive) than cars.
7.7 The use of blind spot mirrors and other measures
to improve drivers' vision and so reduce road casualties are clearly
to be welcomed. However, we note the Minister's comments that
certain aspects of the proposal could be improved. In clearing
the document, we call upon the Minister to press the case for
incorporating these improvements in the text.
7.8 The Minister has provided an indication of the
likely scale of costs and benefits associated with certain aspects
of the proposal. However, we call upon the Minister to provide
a full Regulatory Impact Assessment as soon as possible. We also
ask the Minister to clarify whether the fitting or non-fitting
of the proposed mirrors would have any legal and insurance consequences
for motorists, especially in the event of an accident.
7.9 Meanwhile, we are content to clear the document.